Tomb Raider: AOD
is Back! As Crappy as Ever!
Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness won't be winning any
"Game of the Year" awards, it is one of the more
advanced DirectX games currently available. We've
recorded a custom demo of Lara jogging through an indoor
garden area of the "Prague3" map. When using the Pixel
Shader 2.0 code path, this area of the game utilizes a
DOF (depth of field) blurring effect to enhance your
sense of depth and size. We ran our custom demo at
1024x768 and again at 1600x1200 using both the Pixel
Shader 1.4 and 2.0 code paths (with and without 4x
anti-aliasing in the PS 2.0 tests).
When using the
Pixel Shader 1.4 code path (DirectX 8.1), the Radeon 9800
XTs and GeForce FX 5950 Ultra maintained similar frame rates
(as expected the 5700 Ultra performed much lower).
However, when using the Pixel Shader 2.0 code path the
Radeon 9800 XTs performed much better than the competition,
outpacing the 5950 Ultra by roughly 30% at both resolutions.
When we enabled 4X anti-aliasing, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
gained some ground, but it still couldn't come close to the
Radeon 9800 XTs.
Overclocking With The Sapphire Atlantis Radeon
is Good. Faster is Better!
Sapphire's Redline Utility
By including their custom
"Redline" overclocking / tweaking utility, Sapphire
almost ensures that all of their customers will easily
be able to overclock their cards. Whether they
included their utility or not, however, we would have
taken this card to its limit, because that's the kind of
people we are here! Sure, the Sapphire Atlantis
Radeon 9800 XT is fast, but if there's more performance
to be had by overclocking, we're going after it!
Ultimately, we were able to squeeze quite a bit of extra
performance from our card, take a look...
We raised the
Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT's core and memory clock speeds until
we began to see visual artifacts in our benchmarks and then
brought it back down to a speed that was both stable and
glitch free. In the end, we brought the card's core
clock speed up to 445MHz (up from 412MHz), and the memory
clock speed up to 398MHz - 796MHz DDR (up from 364MHz).
With the card overclocked, we ran the Gun Metal benchmark
again at 1280x1024 and saw a 9.6% performance gain.
Interestingly enough, while overclocked, the Sapphire Radeon
9800 XT surpassed the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra by a tiny
margin, something it was not able to do at default speeds,
in this specific benchmark.
We should also
mention that we experimented with ATi's Overdrive feature a
bit as well. With Overdrive enabled, our GPU core was
automatically overclocked to only 418MHz, while the memory
clock stayed at default. Not very exciting to say the
least but this is by design for all 9800XT cards and a
guaranteed stable setting by ATi. Hardcore enthusiasts
will likely go the way of Sapphire's Redline or other
utilities, to unlock more of the card's potential.
If you look at
the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT in the proper context,
you can't help but be impressed by it. At roughly
$430, the Atlantis 9800 XT isn't cheap, but it is less
expensive than similar cards, and only slightly more
expensive than some 5950 Ultras (Asus 9800XT = $480 / ATi
9800XT = $435 / FX 5950 Ultra $410). Sapphire has also
done a good job with the card's bundle, including their
proprietary Redline utility and one up-to-date game, along
with a voucher for Half Life 2. As is the case with
all Radeon 9800 XTs, image quality in games, 2D and DVD
playback is top-notch and looking at the graphs, its obvious
this card is an excellent performer as well. The only
thing we stuggled over with the Sapphire Atlantis 9800 XT,
was the simple installation problem we had with the Redline
utility, but this was easily resolved after a simple update
download. Ultimately, we were very pleased with the
Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT and are giving it a solid
on the HotHardware Heat Meter. If you can afford it,
you will definitely enjoy gaming with this card.
There are a ton of folks just like you in
HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum! Check It Out!